By GERRY deSIMAS, JR.
Connecticut Wrestling Online
SIMSBURY, Nov. 29, 2005 – Simsbury’s Joey Martin is one of the best high school wrestlers that Connecticut has ever produced. But he is leaving the state to improve his grades.
Martin, a three-time CIAC State Open champion and the defending New England champion at 119 pounds, left the state today to live in Las Vegas, Nevada with his older brother Raymond and his wife, a teacher. Martin will attend Durango High School.
At Simsbury, he was declared academically ineligible for the second quarter. While he could have practiced with the team, he would not be eligible to compete until the final week in January if he regained his eligibility. It would have been enough time for Martin to qualify for the CIAC Class LL tournament and eventually other post-season tournaments.
But this wasn’t just about wrestling.
“After considering all the options, it was overwhelmingly apparent that Joey would do better academically and have more exposure athletically on the West Coast,” Raymond Martin said. He will wrestle with the Durango team, which does compete in some competitive California tournaments.
It is not uncommon to be ineligible at one school and eligible at another, even in Connecticut.
The CIAC has its eligibility rules but schools also have their own standards. Some schools won’t allow students to have any grade below 70 and remain eligible. Some schools let students play with a 70 average, even if they fail a class. Other schools render students ineligible if they fail a class, no matter what their overall average is.
“We agonized over what was the best thing for Joey,” his mother, Laurie Martin, said. “The most important thing is to help him get his grades up (for college). It was a hard decision.”
In three years, Martin never lost a match in Connecticut, going 145-2. He won three straight Class LL and State Open titles. He won a New England championship with a thrilling 6-4 win over Casey Boyle of Lowell, Mass., at 119 last March and was named state wrestler of the year. His only two high school defeats have come in the New England tournament.
At the Cadet/Junior National tournaments in Fargo, North Dakota, he finished second at 119 pounds in the Greco-Roman division in Augusts. He has earned All-American honors the last four years by placing in the top eight.
“He is the most accomplished high school wrestler that Connecticut has ever produced,” said Berlin High coach Jim Day, who has led Berlin to nine state titles and 405 wins over the past 24 years. “Some kids like to win. But he hates to lose. He finds another gear when a match is in jeopardy. He finds another level when he has to.”
Ralph Powers, who helped coach Martin at Northeast Elite in the offseason, said, “He’s just constant movement. He never stops even at practice. He gives it his all to make himself and others better.”
Powers said Martin loves to share his wrestling knowledge with other grapplers. The night before he left Connecticut, he was in Enfield running a practice with Powers for eighth grade students at Northeast Elite.
Martin leaves Connecticut with a career winning percentage of .986, which is tied for second-best in state history with Greenwich’s Bill Brooks (37-0-1 from 1964-67). Only T.J. MarcAurele of NFA and Ledyard was better with a career mark of .988 (171-2) from 1989-92.
Martin was 49-0, 47-1 and 48-1 in his three seasons in Connecticut.